New holiday resorts don't come along very often on the Isle of Wight, so I couldn't resist taking a look at Sandy Lanes Resort.
It is currently being built in Atherfield, which is along the Military Road in the South West Wight. The site was a Pontins holiday park which apparently opened in 1935 and closed in 2007 - that's according to this article which has creepy photos of what it looked like once abandoned. It was sometimes known as Atherfield Bay Holiday Camp.
(Update - in fact, it wasn't a Pontins site. It was privately owned. Thanks for Vivienne for clarifying this for us).
A planning application was approved in 2016 for 63 lodges, a clubhouse and a swimming pool and the land was put up for sale with a guide price of £650,000 (according to this auction website). The poster outside the site refers to a bar, restaurant, tennis courts and a wellness centre.
I'm not exactly sure what it will be called once it's completed. The company which owns them is called Sandy Lane Resort Limited but the poster calls it Sandy Lanes - Luxury Coastal Living.
I've not looked around the site but the lodges look to be very nicely done. You get a 250 year lease with them and they have all year round occupancy. This property listing was for a three bedroom property at £395,000. It says that owners will pay a £5800 a year service charge.
There's been some controversy in the local media about changes to the site.
The local beach is a really quiet one, which takes a bit of effort to reach. There are a couple of parking spaces on the road and then you walk for about five or ten minutes along a footpath and down tracks to reach the beach.
On August 16th 2022, I snuck off at 6am for another look at the work going on at Totland Pier. The children were asleep but I was wide awake so it seemed like a good use of my time.
It had been about two and a half months since my last visit with Tony the Drone so there had been plenty of progress.
The roof and most of the walls are now in place, and you can see that it's going to have a similar look to The Bay Cafe (the cafe has remained closed this summer - I'm not sure why). The upper deck balcony on the new building looks particularly appealing.
I think the whole thing looks excellent, considering that the pier was being gobbled up by the sea a few years ago.
Anyway, here's the video from the August 2022 visit. Sorry about the music, the free ones with my video editing software are not the best.
And here's the video from late May 2022 for comparison. You can read more about the plans for Totland Pier in this blog.
I took Tony the Drone for a walk in early June up to Tennyson Down. It's a rather lovely spot in the West Wight, particularly if you can drag yourself out of bed early in the morning.
A couple of months later I returned and did some comparison shots to see how dry the Isle of Wight is looking after the heatwaves and lack of rain.
On the second occasion, we walked from Freshwater Bay to The Needles.
We set off at 6.10am, as the forecast was for a sweltering day. I spent a long time agonising over whether I should wear shandals, trainers or walking shoes in the heat. The balance between coolness and comfort seemed like a big decision at that time of day.
The walk is about six miles if you go the New Battery and back, or longer if you circle around Headon Warren and the Old Battery.
We went for the shorter option which took us about three hours, allowing for a stop for a bowl of Weetos whilst sat on the benches at Tennyson Down.
By the time we returned to Freshwater Bay at 9.10am, it was already becoming a little too warm for a walk. There's very little shade on the route, so be prepared if you attempt the same thing in the next few days!
There's a golden period in parenting between the children being old enough to enjoy a late night and young enough to want to spend time with you.
Child one is in that stage at the moment whilst child two is still a little too young to cope with the strains of a late night.
We have faced intense temptation this summer to exploit this period with a series of late night family events on the Isle of Wight.
This week we've made it to two such events.
First up, there was Ventnor Carnival's main procession. Ventnor also has a children's carnival which is earlier in the day, but I wanted give my girls an impression of one of the bigger parades. Ryde Carnival is the longest established and biggest carnival on the Isle of Wight but several other towns put on a good show.
Ventnor's Carnival started at 7pm and followed a loop through the town centre. It skirted near to the seafront but didn't actually go along the front. Presumably this is because the roads leading to the Esplanade are too steep and windy.
The sight of carnival princesses and princes clinging on whilst trailers are dragged up ridiculously steep bends may not be the best.
We arrived a little late and parked at La Falaise car park. It was almost full but we found the final space which had 10cm of space either side. We climbed out the window and then walked to the town centre. There was a big crowd in the town centre and we arrived to catch the second half of the parade.
We then began a farcical attempt to find the rest of the parade so we could see the first half which we had missed. After watching the same samba band three times we finally found the start.
My personal favourites at carnivals are marching bands, of which there were - I think - four at Ventnor Carnival.
We decided that we wouldn't stay for the fireworks. It was certainly tempting but the children were flagging and we are getting pretty good at gauging when the children are at their limit.
The farce continued as we then attempted to get home and now found that we had the opposite problem, as we couldn't avoid the parade.
Every time we turned a corner to get back to the car, we met the same part of the parade again. One of the children wasn't enjoying the slightly creepy masks which added to the drama.
We finally got back to the car and the children were only slightly grumpier than usual the next day.
Thanks to all the volunteers who made the carnival happen - we had a good night.
Tapnell Farm's Biggest Kids' Party
Our second evening out took us to Tapnell Farm Park, one of our favourite spots for a day out.
The Biggest Kids' Party started at 6.30pm, so we turned up a few minutes early and filled some time playing with the new basketball hoops.
Tapnell Farm Park has an excellent knack of adding new things which aren't especially flashy or complicated but which fill a good chunk of time. We must have spent 20 minutes lobbing balls into the six different hoops before the main event started.
The party took place in the events barn, which is just off the indoor barn with the go karts.
The first half hour involved enthusiastic entertainers organising classic party games. Child one and two lapped this up, particularly the musical statues which ended in a victory for child one. I was very proud.
The second act was the bubble wizard who puffed smoke into bubbles and fired bubble guns at the audience.
We had agreed in advance that we would leave at this point, since child one was clearly on the brink before we'd even arrived. It had been a hot day and she was showing signs of an impending meltdown.
Child two was gutted when she was told we were leaving, as the next act was the magician. She knows her way round a deck of cards and was looking forward to seeing a professional.
Myself and Mrs Guru looked at each other, trying to see if either us felt we could stretch the bedtime, whilst trying not to let the children know that this was a possibility.
We concluded that this wasn't an option but made a legally binding commitment to come back next week with child one.
I trudged the children back to the car whilst making statements like "we really need an early night" and "you won't enjoy tomorrow if you're too tired". In the background was the sound of much younger children playing happily.
At moments like that it is hard to figure out if you're the best parent in the world or the worst. I'll let you know when I've worked that one out.
It's a funny thing that my memories of school summer holidays on the Isle of Wight always include the sun shining.
I honestly don't remember rainy days in August at all during my childhood. Of course there must have been many, but my mind has decided to remember the evenings spent at Compton Bay rather than the cancelled plans. Or perhaps I just spent most of my time playing on my Sega Mega Drive whilst my mother pleaded with us to get outside.
This summer has had the same feeling of non-stop sunshine, along with the occasional heatwave.
Our trip to the Maize Maze at Tapnell Farm was one such sunny day.
It's not the first time the Isle of Wight has had a maize maze. There was one in Arreton about 10 years ago but we didn't get to that one.
The Tapnell Maize Maze is next to the farm park. It runs as a separate attraction and costs £5 per person.
We were given two pieces of paper including a map of the maze. We decided to keep this hidden until we reached breaking point, which turned out to be about 20 minutes.
The route is well laid out with multiple possible routes and not too many dead ends. In the middle-ish is a viewing platform but it's tricky to navigate others from up there as the maize all blends together from a distance.
The entrance and exit are next to each other so the idea is that you find the nine different cows which are marked throughout the route.
We got as far as the third cow without consulting the map before concluding that it was challenging enough with directions.
After several shouts of "slow down or we'll lose you!" and "that's not a path!" we decided that we were back at the start. Plan B was to collect the six remaining cows in reverse order.
With some intense map reading, we found the cows after about an hour, we emerged from the maze and headed for The Cow to sit in the shade and cool off.
My bits of advice for fellow maze explorers:
I am always delighted when something opens on the Isle of Wight - whether it's a new restaurant, a new attraction or an envelope.
Tapnell Farm has been opening new things pretty regularly for a few years now, including the Farm Park, Football Golf, Axe Throwing and now the Maze Maize.
It's open throughout the school summer holidays and costs £5. There's also a cow-finding game as you go round and you can pick sunflowers at the end.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog